Beginnings

A Cunning Plan

Having seen a few houses on our search that were a bit of a project, we’d started to work out what it was we were looking for in terms of a layout to suit our family life.  Our main priority, coming from a first-floor flat with a 6ft square kitchen, was a lounge-diner at the rear with a connection to the garden.  When we looked at the floor plan for the bungalow we ended up buying, we quickly realised that the existing layout could deliver this with a few alterations.

The original layout:

current plan

From the viewing and survey we knew the bungalow would need a full rewire and new plumbing before we could move in.  This encouraged us to be a bit more ambitious with our renovation plans.  Moving the WC would enable us to knock through and enlarge the kitchen.  In fact, moving the entire bathroom into the box room would free up space at the end of the hallway which could eventually become a doorway into the new lounge when we do the extension. Plus if we blocked up the window onto the garden and created a new window opening on the north wall, it would avoid a window looking into the new lounge extension. Future rework avoided- win!

It felt quite radical to be considering moving the bathroom.  I’d always thought you had to stick with the existing layout when updating a bathroom, particularly the soil pipe location.  But as we needed to strip out and replace all the plumbing anyway for the new central heating it seemed worth exploring with an architect.  Our prospective builder recommended a local architect, and I met him on site to explain what we were thinking.  He confirmed that it was actually relatively straightforward.  Being a bungalow, it was unlikely that any of the walls we wanted to reconfigure would be load-bearing, but he advised checking with a structural engineer in case we needed any steel supports.  He felt moving the bathroom was eminently do-able.  The only thing that would need some consideration was the drainage as a result of moving the soil pipe. I was concerned that we needed to future-proof the drains for the future extension, as I’d read a bit about build-over issues. However, he confirmed that if we located a new inspection chamber outside of the extension footprint (as determined by permitted development rights) we could connect into the existing drain run.

Structural alteration plan:

demolishion plan

Channeling my inner Kirstie Alsop, I identified which walls we could knock down! To further improve the size of the kitchen we decided to remove the chimney breast. We also decided to replace the boiler in a new position and remove the old boiler water tank cupboard to free up more space. This would maximise the size of the kitchen while it had to function as a kitchen-diner pre-extension. We have a notion that when we’ve done the extension and created a dining room flowing from the kitchen we can put an island where the table currently is.  We also decided to remove the built-in fireplace in the lounge to make the layout more flexible.  There were a few areas where we needed to brick up existing openings, between Bedroom 2 and what was to become the bathroom, and in the Lounge, where an old glazed panel to the door opening was to be closed up (I had visions of the kids going through the glass).

Phase 1 Layout:

So after all these structural tweaks, we’d end up with a layout like this:

phase 1 plan

In the opened up hallway, we decided to create two new cupboards.  One was to house the new circuit board and electricity & gas meters post-rewire.  The other was to be carved out of the new bathroom to create a home for the washing machine and tumble dryer. I really wanted to have a utility room but unfortunately we didn’t have the space.  Creating a ventilated cupboard for the stacked appliances freed up space in the kitchen for storage, and it felt so much better not to be having dirty clothes in the place we prepare and eat food!

Part of the reason we fell in love with this house was that we knew with a bit of work it could create a layout that really worked for us as a family. These structural alterations would give the house much more usable space, while facilitating future expansion into a single-storey extension out the back in Phase 2.  More on that later!

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